Different industries and companies use drones for different tasks. For New York energy provider Con Edison, that task is to inspect 10-story boilers that produce steam and energy for some of the most iconic buildings in NYC, including the Empire State. The company has begun testing the use of drones (equipped with cameras and thermal systems) for inspection at one of its steam plants on the East Side of Manhattan. Workers typically have to go through confined-space training and to build tall scaffoldings to check a plant’s boilers. Con Edison’s round, 1.1-pound carbon fiber machines can simply fly all over the place, capturing videos and photos.
The company’s UAVs sound like they have what it takes to be effective inspectors: they can can roam plants for 10 minutes at a time, were designed to withstand collisions and can capture 1280x1080p resolution videos. However, human personnel still play a part by analyzing footage and images to figure out what the company needs to repair. Margarett Jolly, Con Edison director of Research and Development, said using drones can help them “speed up the process while still upholding and perhaps improving quality and safety.” The energy company has uploaded videos of the inspection below, if you’re interested in seeing what a steam plant looks like from the inside.